How to Wear a Colorful Polka Dot Blouse to Look Chic, not Clownish

Polka Dots! Bright, colorful polka dots…They’re for kids and circus clowns…right?  Lots of times, they are, but when I came across this cute multi-colored polka dot blouse from the Banana Republic and had a change of heart. Here’s what is different about this colorful polka dot top and how I made it work for me.

polka dotted blouse outfit | Deborah Boland

Polka dots clothes have been around forever, and I have owned my fair share, but in the last couple of years, there have been some interesting changes in the size, color, and types of dots out there. ( You can read more about how polka dots have been reimagined here.)

As a result, polka dot pieces look quite chic on us gals over 40, 50, and more. So I would say that if you are looking at buying something in a polka dot print, like this blouse I just bought, keep these things in mind to look chic and not clownish.


1. Choose Dots in Sophisticated Colors

When most of us think of colorful polka dot prints, we think of bright red, yellow, and blue polka dots against a stark white background – you know birthday party dots, and yes, a top like this would seem rather juvenile, but the pretty blouse I bought is a mixture of light blue, soft pink and white. The dark black background also helps give this colorful dotted blouse a more chic look.

Polka Dotted blouse - mulit colored | Deborah Boland

2. Choose Smaller Dots

Small to medium dots are easier to wear than large dots because they are quieter and more sophisticated.  This doesn’t mean that large dots are out of the question, but they are much trickier to wear without looking ridiculously loud or overwhelming your frame.  Large dots on a petite woman will make her look like she is drowning in dots and make a large woman look larger, believe it or not.

Polka Dotted top | Deborah Boland

3. Choose Dots in a  Random or Unique Pattern

Another thing that makes this colorful, dotted blouse work for me is the unique way the dots are arranged. They are close together, some are in clusters, and some even overlap. So the dots feel more artsy/mature as opposed to cutesy/junior.

black polka dot blouse, black pants, black sweater| Deborah Boland

4. Choose Dotted Clothing with a Simple Silhouette

Fussy polka dot pieces with ruffles, pockets, pleats, other stand-out details, etc., can look wild. And can you imagine if the dots are colorful? One of the things that sold me on my polka dot blouse is that it is very sleek and clean-lined. This style of the top makes the polka dot print feel modern and fresh.

blue and black dot blouse | Deborah Boland

5. Wear Your Dots with Black or White

Black always looks sophisticated and chic, so I chose to wear all black to anchor this top and make the dots pop. It almost looks like The Milky Way!  I prefer this all-black look over one color pants + another color sweater because it just gets too busy looking with all those colored dots. It’s not that this other way is wrong, but all black with this dotted top is just more sophisticated looking. 

Michael Kors plum tote bag

6. Quality, Minimalist Accessories

I could have worn a chunky, colorful statement necklace, wild earrings, or loads of arm candy with this blouse, but why? The dots are playful and eye-catching enough, so I wanted to keep my jewelry fine and elegant.  It’s a personal choice, but it works for me. Even my bag is quality, non-fussy with clean lines. Same with my shoes.

polka dotted blouse and black jeans | Deborah Boland

This colorful polka-dotted blouse is sold out, but you can find a similar polka dot top here.

More polka dot tops here
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